A delegation from the Magdalene Survivors Together group says it expects Taoiseach Enda Kenny to deliver an apology on behalf of the State following a three-hour meeting in Government Buildings.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore also attended the meeting with six women, four of whom want to remain anonymous.
Sullivan and Marina Gambold, who spent time in a laundry in Wexford,
described Mr Kenny as “very nice and very kind” and “very sympathetic”.
they told Mr Kenny about their experiences, the Taoiseach told them it
was important for him to “put a face” to the stories in the report
compiled by Senator Martin McAleese.
“That meant something to us,” Ms Sullivan said.
women told them their "healing process" could only take place if a
State apology was delivered. They also said it was important that Mr
Kenny had said he believed their stories.
Asked by reporters if Mr Kenny told them he would make a full apology, Ms Sullivan said: “Yes, I think that’s coming”.
Magdalene Survivors Together group head Steven O’Riordan confirmed that
the issue of possible compensation was not discussed.
think that we’d get a three-hours meeting with the Taoiseach…they
weren’t rushed in any capacity. A lot of the women told things that they
haven’t told anybody else,” he said.
Mr O’Riordan said it was
important that Mr Gilmore attended. “He was quite compassionate as well
for a man who comes across as not so compassionate in the media,” Mr
The Labour Party had been strong advocates for the Magdalenes, Mr O’Riordan added.
Fianna Fáil has published the wording for its private members motion on
the Magdalene laundries, to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow and
The party’s justice spokesman Niall Collins said the
motion called for an apology to be given to the women of the Magdalene
Laundries by the Taoiseach, on behalf of the Oireachtas and all citizens
of the State, for what they had to endure.
It also calls for the
establishment of a dedicated unit within the Department of Justice and
Equality to co-ordinate remaining aspects of the State’s response,
“including all forms of redress which should be provided”.
Collins described the Government’s response to the report carried out by
Senator Martin McAleese as “deeply disappointing”. The Magdalene women
and their families were “left feeling angry and let down”, he added.
Fein’s Aengus O Snodaigh said many of the women were elderly and some
were unwell. “The time for an apology is now. The women and girls did
not voluntarily offer their services and labour, but were young and
vulnerable,” he said.
“Besides the apology they are due, they must be
compensated for lost wages and pension. They should be looked after in
terms of their health and housing needs.”
for Magdalenes, another organisation representing survivors of
laundries run by religious orders, yesterday sought clarification as to
the purpose of the meeting today.
Spokeswoman for Justice for Magdalenes
Claire McGettrick last night said the Taoiseach and Tánaiste knew what
the issues were and that the women wanted an apology and compensation.
said the organisation had a survivor-centred ethos and, following
communication from the Taoiseach’s department on Friday about the
meeting, they sought clarification about its purpose and agenda.
McGettrick said it was very important to note that while the report
said 26.5 per cent of the women were in the laundries through State
involvement, that figure did not take account of those returned to the
laundries by gardaí when they escaped, the financial interactions of the
State or official inspections.
Ms McGettrick denied reports that
they were snubbing the meeting. She said the women were elderly and
private and issues such as media glare were important.
When the women
met the report committees chairman, then senator Martin McAleese, they
were afforded privacy and wanted assurance on this in writing from the
Taoiseach’s department, she added.